For religious reasons

Parent 1: I am too lazy to get up in the morning to get my kids to school.

Society: What an evil parent!

Parent 2: For religious reasons, I don’t allow my kids to attend school.

Society: Respect!

- – -

gay-wedding-cakePerson 1: I don’t want other people to get married.

Society: What do you care what other people do with their private life?

Person 2: It is against my religious belief if some other people get married.

Society: We’ll have to take this objection seriously.

- – -

Scientology buildingTaxpayer 1: I don’t want to pay taxes.

State: We’ll send the bailiff.

Taxpayer 2: I don’t want to pay taxes for religious reasons.

State: Oh, there is a certain tax status for that. You are welcome.

- – -

Butcher 1: I kill animals in a way that they bleed to death.

Society: How barbaric!

Butcher 2: For religious reasons, I kill animals in a way that they bleed to death.

Society: How barbaric! [There is no difference in opinion here because this is a Jewish and Muslim practice.]

- – -

Freedom of religion as a human right originally meant that the state must not interfere in a citizen’s religion, must not impose a certain religion, must not ban any religion and must not discriminate against citizens based on their religion. It was not intended as a right to be used by religious people to carve out ever more niches of society in which they apply their own rules or even try to force the rest of society to accept their rules.

Freedom of religion is a particularly sensitive right because it protects the belief in something which people can make up and re-interpret as they want, often arguing some instructions allegedly issued by somebody who doesn’t exist. Such a construct is prone to be abused. The more it is sought to be extended beyond its original meaning, the less serious it will be taken. If freedom of religion turns into a general freedom of doing whatever one wants, we don’t need a special human right for it. It only makes a mockery of all other, more important, rights.

(Diesen Artikel können Sie auch auf Deutsch lesen.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Human Rights, Law, Life, Philosophy, Religion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to For religious reasons

  1. Pingback: Aus religiösen Gründen | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Marie says:

    Religion is NOT a way of life but a way to help you think. Religion is a philosophy not a mere enumeration of restrictive rules. It is written NOWHERE that you should take your kids out of school for religious reasons. That is a stupid way to interpret religion. The basis of your religious hatred is more about society’s interpretation of religion than religion really…

    If you study this carefully you’ll see that the main examples you take have nothing to do with religion but rather our modern INTERPRETATION of it.
    I am a catholic, I have no problem whatsoever with gays (i am in favour of gay marriage even if I am straight), no problem with paying taxes, no problem with abortion, no problem with public schools or other religions.
    I am even in favor of a non-religious state/school/hospitals/whatever public service. It’s ok to be lay active supporter.

    you have to learn (urgently) that expressing one’s opinions doesn’t mean insulting or being disrespectful towards the people who don’t think like you. That’s just rude and therefore wrong.

    • If open-minded people like you and narrow-minded bigots can refer to the same God, Bible, Pope, Jesus, church and priests, then something must be wrong with that religion. Or it must be terribly vague, which would again throw up the question why it requires special constitutional protection.

      • Marie says:

        The problem my dear is not religion but rather who interpret it.

        It may appear crazy for you but It is written NOWHERE in the Quran that women should wear a burqa. But some crazy powerful fools made it a reality.

        Religion can’t be anything but vague dude! It involves faith! Not facts otherwise it is science or history! Religion is built up with metaphors not truth!

        As I wrote it the problem you’re talking about is twisted INTERPRETATION of religion not religion itself.

        I am not more open minded than anybody else I just know the difference between metaphors and reality. And I think that my religion and my beliefs in general belongs to my private sphere I don’t need nor want to expose/ impose it to anybody else and so do think all the Catholics that are not fanatics.

      • Something that is so open to interpretation because it is absolutely vague IS the problem itself.

    • dino bragoli says:

      You say you are Catholic… I suggest you don’t confess to your Priest your opinions as you will not be welcomed in any Catholic Church. Please excuse my assumption that you do go to Church but as you say you are a Catholic I imagine that you do. Picking and chosing is great for a restaurant menu but not so much for religion, especially Islam.
      Most Anglican Protestants would shun your opinions, even believers of non christian religions will hate you for it but never say so of course. They will tell you that ‘their’ religion is all about love while gritting their teeth behind a false smile. Some may even forgive you. Religion poisons everything.

  3. I recently read the book Liberty of Conscience by Roger Williams which I highly recommend if interested in the topic of the early religion/state reasoning of the 17th century.

    Do you think that offering government benefits for marriage is an interference?

    • I don’t think that offering government benefits for marriage is an interference with freedom of religion, because marriage is only valid (at least in most countries) if performed by a state institution. The religious ceremony is just another party, in the eyes of the law.

      I am however critical of government benefits for marriage for other reasons, because I don’t see the public benefit in two people being tied together in a way that their untangling will cost the taxpayer more (divorce courts, lawyers paid by legal aid, and so on).
      The reason behind subsidies for marriage may lie in promoting childbirth, but then childbirth should be subsidized, not (potentially childless) marriages.

      • List of X says:

        There are, I believe, additional benefits to marriage, for example, psychological and even financial: if one of the spouses works and another doesn’t, the government doesn’t have to support the non-working spouse. (At least not in the US).

  4. Marie says:

    No Andreas, the problem is not that religion is vague, the problem is that we are so lazy we don’t even think for ourselves and trust crazy twisted people who are radicals and only want to take control of your faith.
    Religion is meant to be vague. Not because it is cool. But just because it is open to YOUR OWN interpretation and not anybody else’s. You built your own relationship with your beliefs. If you have an opinion it should be the result of a reflection not an appropriation of anybody else’s.
    Religion is a serious matter that is treated too lightly by people and thus left to twisted people who take control of naive minds.

    • Maybe I should point out again that this article is not on religion, it is on freedom of religion as a human/constitutional right. And now could you explain how something so completely vague/personal/open to interpretation/based on “your own relationship with your beliefs” can be the basis for a constitutional right? I argue that it can’t and that it shouldn’t, exactly because it is so personal.

  5. Marie says:

    Religion embodies the relationship between the personal view on the universal.
    Religion is the first things that helped us live together and create a society based on common beliefs. “don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie etc..” basic universal rules to be able to live in a society of Men without fear to be killed by your own brother.
    Religion is therefore at the basis of every law since it defines what’s morally good or not and gives Men rules.
    everything is based on religion our calendar, time, jobs, justice…so it is logical it is involved in constitution as well..
    French revolutionaries tried to erase religion from state and politics and society basically, they failed.

  6. Marie says:

    But as I said earlier, I think religion should remain on the private sphere.

  7. dino bragoli says:

    What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, simple.

  8. Marie says:

    Sometimes you can’t always give/get evidence, and sometimes only way is to trust. (whoever, whatever it may be)

  9. Marie says:

    … And I don’t think that people hate atheists. I don’t and nobody around me does. The only who might hate Atheist are the fanatics and other twist-minded people….which means a tiny proportion of population.

    • dino bragoli says:

      Thank you for thinking that most people don’t hate atheists, you are most kind.
      From my own personal experience I can say that many zealot believers hate or at least severely dislike me because I’m an atheist anti-theist and I’m often outspoken. You will find fanatics in most Catholic Churches. The clever ones will think it but won’t say so, the stupid ones will say it and spit in your face. Maybe I should be an atheist and not say so… Many years ago a Catholic Priest told me that I think the way I do because I was brought up in London near the Jewish market in Petticoat Lane. I disagreed because it could have been the Muslim Bengali community of Brick Lane, I grew up near them too. You can’t believe everything that people tell you.. they have an agenda but compared to Islam Christianity is quite benign. It’s better to spit in someone’s face than shoot them with a AK47 I suppose.

  10. Marie says:

    Here again I believe that religion should remain in the private sphere and this applies to atheism as well. No one ever proved God existed but NO one ever proved it didn’t. So I consider atheism as a belief thus should remain in the private sphere. Atheists are no better than believers.

    I am a catholic and I am not a fanatic neither stupid I take religion for what it is which means a philosophy giving guidelines in life but not as a compilation of rules I would have to follow cautiously.

    The catholic priest you met was not the right one. You know they might be priest they are all different from one another and sometimes do not have the same views on things even though they have the same “job”.

    The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people but they are mistaken for terrorists hijackers because a tiny (growing fast) proportion of them understood that some weak people want to believe in something and took over them by lying and giving them false interpretation.

    The truth is that we humans are not almighty and there are situations we don’t have any control on. The brightest scientific acknowledge this.
    You’re right when you say that you can’t believe everything one say (that’s mere logic) but you also have to admit that you can’t always ask for evidence. sometimes you have to trust. and that’s how it works, that’s ok. If someone begs for 20 cents to buy food, I can’t ask for an evidence I decide whether I give or not, it would be my choice to trust or not that’s it. When I say something to someone I don’t give evidence all the time, you choose to trust me or not. Sometimes you do sometimes you don’t.

  11. Marie says:

    and here again, making sweeping generalization about who is a catholic, a jew or a muslim or a gay or a fatty or an immigrant and how they are is exactly what fanatics do.

  12. dino bragoli says:

    I also wish that religion remains in the private sphere but unfortunately it doesn’t.
    It’s true I’m fanatical about the truth, I’m also not fanatical about the supernatural.

  13. dino bragoli says:

    I like the Italian rather commendable Court motto ‘la legge è uguale per tutti’ but of course it isn’t.
    Is it still the case where Ministers of religion can’t be charged with certain offences…
    I remember a case with a British Vicar, a street walker and a parked car…
    The British Coat of arms oozes security and strengh. Cameron has just declared the UK a Christian Country. I’m fairly sure that he won’t experience a super natural apparition or start hearing voices telling him what to do next. Some have of course. Tony Blair has been reborn a Catholic.
    On my Island I would have ‘If you don’t pray in our Schools we won’t think in your Churches’.

  14. Joan says:

    I think that as there are many ways to think about a god, then it is important to investigate that deity’s claim. What the Art World calls ‘provenance’ do you know where something comes from? Is there sufficient factual evidence for it? or has it come out of some man’s – or woman’s heart. The only claim that has any validity are the prophecies of the Judea/ Christian religion. When God said He’d do something and then He did it. In fact He told the nation of Israel that He’d never do anything without first telling His servants the prophets. So anything you see or you hear ask yourself ‘was it foretold? ‘. If not, then don’t touch it with a barge pole. Jesus said ” heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away’
    It’s no good having a god in your own image Maria, you have to agree with Him, not Him with you; even when society doesn’t agree with you, and remember that it is ” people from every nation, every tribe and every tongue” that will be in heaven. Not every creed or religion. You get there by going His way not your own way. “Love does no harm to his neighbour”

    • dino bragoli says:

      Hello Joan, as ‘provenance’ roughly equates to evidence, if you have some please provide it as I would be most interested to see some.
      As a teenager I was taken on a school trip (Church of England Grammar school) to Lourdes, a very interesting trip. We were told that miracles took place there. Being an inquisitive child I asked my Teacher if a severed limb were to regrow would it be a miracle, she said yes of course. I then asked my Teacher why then, were there abandoned wheelchairs on show but no prosthetics to be seen at all.
      I suppose I was smirking when I said it… When we got back to the UK I was suspended for ‘disruptive insubordination’ and of course my Parents were duly informed… They apologised to the Headmaster for my behaviour. When we left the Headmaster’s office my Parents congratulated me on my observation skills and asked me how my science studies were going… They also advised me to be more discreet in future.
      There was no evidence to contradict my statement of facts, but punishment from the school and then ridicule from my classmates was very forthcoming. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves at my expense. Some Countries run on the same ‘logic’ used to put me in my place.

  15. dino bragoli says:

    He he they weren’t too pleased even though they were both atheists, as Italian immigrants to the UK they considered me getting into a Grammar school to be a privilege… unfortunately my card was marked at the school from there on. I made a few enemies that day in France.

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